Retail & Innovation

Digital aisles drawing crowds

From supporting a surge in website traffic to implementing quick technology solutions, here’s how the team supporting has responded to COVID-19.
Adam Sunman

Sujatha Satish had barely unpacked her belongings at her new desk at the Old Post Office in downtown Chicago when COVID-19 sent her home again.
As a senior manager on Walgreens’ Digital Engineering team supporting, she had only been there a week before Illinois issued a stay-at-home order in mid-March, shifting both her workspace and her focus.
“Our first priority was supporting the sudden change in web traffic,” says Satish. “Within days, we had a big increase in e-commerce orders as customers across the country started shopping more online to limit possible exposure to the virus.”

While the team prepared and increased the site’s capacity to support more visitors than usual, they also began to see a change in how customers were shopping altogether.
“Rather than the usual browsing we see on, people began going straight to the essential items they knew they needed to buy online,” says Satish. “The site also allows customers to check stock at their local store, and since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase of people using this feature every minute. With items in stores being purchased so quickly, the team has quadrupled the technical capability behind this feature to make it as accurate as possible for customers to know if the item they need is in their local store.”
For Satish and her team, being ready for shoppers in a pandemic environment also meant implementing innovative solutions as quickly as possible. Cue the creation of drive-thru pickup. This new feature, which has been rolling out the past couple of weeks in many markets across the country, allows customers to purchase essential items online and pick them up at the drive-thru pharmacy window.
“We’re used to working in sprints – a methodology of quickly building and scaling a product – but the pandemic has meant that we’ve had to work even faster to continue to care for our customers and patients the best we can.”

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